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A family owned restaurant that opened in 1936, Felice a Testaccio in Rome is known for serving up traditional fare, including tonnarelli cacio e pepe. But it was the spaghetti alla Felice that caught our attention during a recent visit. Piping-hot, just-drained al dente pasta was tossed with grape tomatoes, olive oil, a mixture of fresh herbs and ricotta cheese. The dish was creamy but not at all heavy, and the bright, fresh flavors and textures were simple and elegant. Adapting the recipe, we learned that good-quality whole-milk ricotta is key. Look for a brand made without gums or stabilizers; it will taste purer and sweeter and have a superior texture. As for the herbs, use a mix of a few types listed in the recipe to achieve a wide spectrum of flavors, from anise sweetness to menthol freshness, hints of citrus to earthy, woodsy notes. If you choose to add marjoram and/or oregano, do so sparingly, as they are very assertive herbs.
pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
teaspoon white sugar
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